How much does pet travel cost?

If you're planning to move domestically or internationally and have pets, you're likely wondering how much pet transport costs. The answer to this will vary depending on a variety of factors.

What factors affect pet travel costs?

The cost of pet transport depends on many things including:

  • Your origin and destination - Each country has its own set of pet import requirements, and some are more complicated than others. While domestic USA travel is relatively simple with limited veterinary requirements, Australia has far more requirements, extra paperwork, and quarantine. Paperwork, quarantine, and customs clearance all cost money.
  • The size of your pet - When pets travel as cargo, the fees for their flight (airfreight charges) are based on the weight of your pet plus their travel kennel. That being said, the flight for a 10-pound cat will be less expensive than the flight for a 100-pound dog. If your pet meets the requirements to travel in-cabin or as accompanied baggage, this is usually a set fee not based on weight. However, not all airlines or destinations will allow pets to travel this way.
  • The number of pets that you have - If you are traveling with multiple pets, then not only will the flight costs be higher, but so will the fees for veterinary visits, paperwork, import permits, quarantine, and customs clearance. 
  • The services you will need - In some cases, you can handle some aspects of your pet's move, whereas you may need to outsource others. If you have the means to drive your pet to and from the airport(s), then you will save some costs there. Other services that may or may not be necessary include transportation to/from the vet for the required veterinary treatments, boarding, or having someone else provide you with a travel kennel. 

What are the average costs for pet transport?

The average cost for pet transport can vary depending on the factors listed above.

If you are hiring a company to transport your pet domestically within the USA via air, the starting price is about $1,500 USD. If you need someone to pick up or deliver your pet to/from the airports, or if you are searching only for ground transportation, then this cost will usually depend on the mileage. 

If your pet is traveling internationally and you hire a pet transport service to arrange a door-to-door move, then the starting price for one pet is around $4,500 USD. Keep in mind that countries with more complicated pet import requirements, like Australia and New Zealand, are also more expensive to transport pets.

Do note that these costs do not include any preliminary veterinary visits that would be required to make sure your pet is compliant with the pet import regulations. The costs for veterinary services will vary depending on your particular vet hospital, and how many treatments are required.

If you are bringing your pet in-cabin or as accompanied baggage (assuming your pet is eligible), then the transportation costs are usually a few hundred dollars with the airline. Again, this does not include any preliminary veterinary visits or import services such as customs clearance or quarantine.

Why is pet transport so expensive?

There are a variety of reasons why pet travel is so expensive, especially when you are using a pet transport company or moving internationally. 

  • Handling and care - Shipping live animals requires specialized handling and care throughout the entire process. Pet shipping companies must ensure the safety and well-being of the animals during transportation, which involves trained staff, proper facilities, and equipment. This adds to the overall cost.
  • Documentation and paperwork - When transporting pets, there are a number of documentation and paperwork requirements involved. This includes health certificates, permits, customs clearance, and other legal documents that need to be prepared and processed correctly. These administrative tasks can be time-consuming and may require the involvement of professionals, contributing to the cost.
  • Transportation logistics - Pet shipping involves various logistical aspects including booking flights and coordinating ground transportation. Ensuring that pets are transported in a safe and timely manner requires careful planning and coordination, which can be complex and costly.
  • Veterinary services and vaccinations - Depending on the destination, pets require specific vaccinations, treatments, blood testing, and examinations before they can travel. These veterinary services add to the overall expense.
  • Safety measures and regulations - Pet shipping companies must comply with various safety regulations and standards, both internationally and domestically. This may involve investing in specialized containers, crates, or carriers that meet the required standards, as well as ensuring proper ventilation, temperature control, and security measures during transit. These safety measures contribute to the overall cost of pet shipping.
  • Insurance coverage - Some pet shipping companies offer insurance options to protect against unforeseen circumstances or potential risks during transportation. The cost of insurance coverage is typically included in the overall shipping cost.

It's important to remember that pet transport is a specialized service that requires careful attention to the safety and well-being of the animals involved. The expenses associated with providing these services contribute to the overall cost of pet shipping.